Paul Tuthill

Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston.  He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester.  Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011.  Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has approved a delay in the opening date for the MGM Springfield casino because of a highway reconstruction project.   The casino regulators Thursday also signed off on an historic preservation plan that should clear the way for the Las Vegas-based entertainment giant to obtain the final permits required to begin building the state’s first resort casino. 

MGM Springfield

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has approved a delay in the opening of the MGM Springfield casino because of a highway reconstruction project.

The commission voted 5-0 Thursday to set a September 2018 opening date for the $800 million resort casino — a year later than originally planned.  

Although MassDOT says the reconstruction of I-91, which is right next to the casino site, could be done as soon as December 2017, MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis argued it was prudent to plan for a later finish.

Holyokemall.com

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker Thursday signed a law declaring a sales tax free weekend August 15 and 16.

Baker acknowledged the tax break costs the state revenue, but he said it is something consumers and retailers have come to expect.  Massachusetts has had a sales tax holiday weekend in all but one year since 2004. 

Jon Hurst , president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said it helps local stores capture sales that would otherwise go to other states or online where no sales tax is collected.

Masslive.com

The top transportation official in Massachusetts said finishing the reconstruction of I-91 in Springfield ahead of schedule is a top priority.  MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollock discussed the massive highway project during a western Massachusetts tour Wednesday where she also attended the rededication of the recently reconstructed Norwottuck Rail Trail.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Pollack as they walked along part of the rail trail in Northampton.

WAMC

The state’s top transportation official said she is confident everything possible has been done to prepare for a major highway project just getting underway in western Massachusetts.

MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack said a “great”traffic management plan is in place to minimize the impact of the lane reductions and ramp closures that will take place over the next three years as the I-91 viaduct is reconstructed in downtown Springfield.

Matthew Kang, flickr

New data shows the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts is worse than public health officials feared.

The number of opioid deaths in 2014 totaled 1,256 according to revised numbers released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.   Initial estimates had 1,008 people dying of drug overdoses last year. 

And, the epidemic shows no signs of lettering up.  An estimated 312 people are thought to have died of an overdose in the first three months of this year. 

A task force created by Gov. Charlie Baker released a report in June with 65 recommendations.

WAMC

The second largest public school system in Massachusetts is expanding early childhood education through what officials say is a unique partnership with the private sector.

A new free preschool in Springfield is currently enrolling eligible 4-year-old children for classes that will start next month.  There are approximately 300 openings in the Springfield Cooperative Preschool, which is being run collaboratively by the public schools, Head Start, the Square One organization, and the YMCA of Greater Springfield.  

Robert Rizzuto / The Republican/Masslive.com

A local attorney has been chosen to be the first neighborhood liaison at UMass Amherst.

Eric Beal, a Umass Amherst graduate and former chair of the Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals will work with university and town officials to respond to incidents and complaints involving off-campus student behavior.  

Beal said he will promote proactive programs, perform mediation and be a mainstay in the neighborhoods that traditionally find large student gatherings on nights and weekends.

Springfield Police

Communities across the region, and the nation, are gearing up for an evening of food, fun, and music.   Parties with a serious purpose are being thrown tomorrow in neighborhood playgrounds, parks, and in the courtyards of apartment building.  The 32nd annual National Night Out crime prevention event is tomorrow.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Sergeant John Delaney, spokesman for the Springfield Police Department. 

President Obama is proposing the toughest regulations in U.S. history to combat climate change. Researchers say the president’s plan to reduce power plant emissions would also have a substantial and immediate impact on people’s health.

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